Tag Archives: thomas

Department 56 scale: The definitive guide

The Department 56 product line is rather extensive, but there are items they don’t produce and likely never will. If you want to complete your village with other items, or use Department 56 in other settings, such as a train layout, then scale might matter to you—and “Department 56 scale” is undefined. Here’s how to make sure the things you want to use together will go together, size-wise.

The answer, by Department 56’s own admission, is that it varies. But since I see the question come up again and again, I’m going to tackle it. It varies, but there’s a method to it the madness.

Continue reading Department 56 scale: The definitive guide

The best e-book site I’ve found

The best ebooks site I’ve found, by far, is the archive at the University of Adelaide in Australia. The selection is outstanding, but the presentation is even better.

Steve Thomas, the curator, takes tremendous care to ensure Adelaide’s e-books display their best on any device. Most e-books, even commercial books, pay little to no attention to formatting, and the result all too often is books that are difficult to read.

Continue reading The best e-book site I’ve found

My second 1935 Goudey: Grimes, Klein, and Cuyler

Sometime around the sixth grade I realized that prices on modern cards were very volatile. If a star player had a bad month, his card prices were likely to suffer, while a good month or good season could send prices skyward. I have few regrets in life, but I do wish I’d sold or traded off my Jose Canseco rookie cards when their book value was $300. I could buy several today for $5 or $6 if I wanted more. (I’ll pass.)

That’s about what I paid for my second 1935 Goudey card, which featured not one but three Hall of Famers in Chicago Cubs uniforms: Burleigh Grimes, Chuck Klein, and Kiki Cuyler, along with Woody English. And when I bought that card in the late 1980s, I knew none of them were going to have a bad year the next year.

Continue reading My second 1935 Goudey: Grimes, Klein, and Cuyler

My son learns a new word

I was late getting home Friday. My oldest son interrogated me at the door.

“Daddy, where were you?”

“Babysitting vendors,” I said. We do that a lot where I work. A lot. Make that a LOT. (I’m tempted to break out the blink tag, but if you’re reading this, I like you, so I’ll spare you.)

“What’s a vendor?” he asked. Continue reading My son learns a new word

Better than the shirt off my back

My oldest just started kindergarten, and he needed some school supplies, of course. Among those supplies was a paint shirt, and the instructions said an old adult-sized shirt would be fine.

We sent him with something, but he wanted a different one his second week of school–something bigger than what we sent him initially, so that it would cover his legs too. “I want a plain shirt,” he told me. “One with no writing on it.”

Then he paused. “The shirt you have on looks good.” Continue reading Better than the shirt off my back

It’s time to strike down the red-light cameras

I saw some abuses of the red-light cameras on the news at noon. In one case, the car next to the one that ran the light got the ticket. In another, the owner wasn’t driving the car. The reporter asked the mayor of Florissant, Thomas Schneider, if that was fair.

“It’s safe,” he said. And he said the same thing to every other question the reporter asked.

That’s debatable. But guess what? Josef Stalin’s regime was very safe. Do what Stalin said, and you were safe. That doesn’t make Stalin fair, right, or ethical. It doesn’t make Schneider fair, right, or ethical either.

It’s not safe, either.

Continue reading It’s time to strike down the red-light cameras

If you have wooden trains, you need Suretrack

I finally bought my boys a box of Suretrack, after thinking about it for a mere two years. Wait. Make that a long two years. A long two years of the most destructive forces known to humanity (two young boys) ravaging their wooden track.

Here’s the drill: I spend 45 minutes building an intricate layout to their ever-changing specifications, and of course since they think there’s no such thing as too many bridges, that layout comes tumbling down about 45 seconds after the first train hits the track.

Sound familiar? Continue reading If you have wooden trains, you need Suretrack

The difference between local and traveling train shows

I took my family to a train show–The Great Train Expo–this past weekend. I’ve been going to shows for about 8 years or so, and while we had fun, I ended up not spending any of the money I brought with me. At least not on myself. I think I have an idea why. There’s a difference between local and traveling train shows.
Continue reading The difference between local and traveling train shows

Creative play with boys

On Saturday morning, my wife went out for a few hours to run errands and left me home with the boys. And when she came home, I was on the living room floor building a garage out of Mega Bloks (an oversized Lego knockoff for toddlers) with them. My oldest is really, really into Cars right now (the Pixar movie, not the New Wave band), and that improvised Mega Blok garage was just about the greatest thing ever–well, maybe just all day, which in a 3-year-old’s mind, might as well be forever.

“I never would have thought to do that with boys,” my wife said.

Continue reading Creative play with boys